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  • H&H Chiropractic

What is Ketamine and How Does It Work?

Cedar City Health and Wellness Group has been offering Ketamine Assisted/Ketamine Infusion Therapy for over 2 years ago...if this is the first time you've heard of this treatment options, here's a little information...

What is ketamine?

Ketamine is classified as a dissociative anesthetic with some hallucinogenic properties; it is a non competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, which was originally synthesized as an alternative to the anesthetic, phencyclidine (PCP). It was first introduced in 1962 where it was recognized for its potent anesthetic analgesic properties and the unique alterations of consciousness at variable dosages. Today, it is commonly used as an anesthetic and as an analgesic agent in multiple pain conditions. 

How does ketamine work? 

Ketamine’s antidepressant activity is believed to stem from its antagonism of NMDA receptors within the glutamate neurotransmitter system. This leads to an overall decrease in inhibition, also known as disinhibition, tilting the balance of synaptic transmission toward excitation. 

Ketamine is also believed to increase neuroplasticity in the brain, which is your brain's ability to adapt and rewire itself. It is also possible that ketamine enhances synaptogenesis, which refers to the creation of new connections between neurons. 

Ketamine is theorized to increase access to traumatic memory through the enhanced synaptic connectivity. Ketamine also decreases central sensitization through the downregulation of the prefrontal cortex which may help to enhance extinction of previously paired pain-related memories. 

Although ketamine is classified as a dissociative anesthetic, it is not uncommon to hear reports of psychedelic-like experiences. These psychedelic aspects were initially feared, however, some researchers have indicated enhanced benefit from the presence of psychedelic experiences that parallel those from psilocybin studies. 

Who is ketamine for?

Ketamine is being used to treat a variety of mental health diagnoses and substance use disorders. The most significant improvements have been seen in those with developmental trauma (complex PTSD), PTSD and treatment resistant depression. There have been studies suggesting improvement in BPD, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, ADHD and substance dependence (alcohol, cannabis, opioids etc.)

Ketamine may also be useful for patients with therapy-resistant chronic pain syndromes, especially those with a neuropathic component, such as complex regional pain syndrome type 1 (CRPS-1), post-herpetic neuralgia and neuropathic pain from peripheral nerve damage. 

Is ketamine safe?

When used properly, in clinical settings, there have been no reported safety concerns from ketamine and ketamine treatments are considered safe. 

What are the side effects of ketamine?

As with other drugs, they all work on each person differently. However, some of the common side effects include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, derealization, drowsiness, visual disturbances and cardiorespiratory effects. Medication can be given during ketamine treatments to minimize some of these effects.

What does ketamine feel like?

This is difficult to say as drugs work differently on each person. Although dose-dependent, ketamine tends to promote a time-out from ordinary, usual mind, relief from negativity, and an openness to the expansiveness of mind with access to self in the larger sense. 

At smaller doses, this may promote what some call a “trance state.” This state promotes communication, access to difficult states of mine with less fear, and a relief from obsessive and depressive concerns. Conscious awareness and an ability to communicate is maintained throughout the experience, often with a reduction in direct verbal output. Working with this state is ideal for ketamine-assisted therapy in which there is a therapist guiding and supporting you through your journey.

At larger doses, this may promote a transformational state or “out-of-body” experience. This state is categorized by reduction of body and sensory awareness of an ego reductive, spiritual and liberatory nature. There may be a diminution in tactile and visual sensation with an alteration of auditory receptivity and possible internal visuals. 

How can I prepare for ketamine?

Although ketamine can be an effective treatment for people who are treatment resistant, ketamine works best in conjunction with everything else. Things like therapy, journaling, meditating can all help facilitate healing in combination with ketamine.

What should I bring to my appointment?

Headphones - some patients like to listen to music during their session. We recommend music with no lyrics, as the lyrics can affect and/or pull you out of your experience

Comfortable clothes - you will be seated or reclined during your session for around an hour. We recommend clothes that will not get in the way of your comfort during this time

A designated driver - ketamine will continue to impair you after your session which is why we require a driver to be able to get you back to where you are going safely


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